‘I went to Sheffield and came back with nothing’: Uni student forced to drop out due to lack of disability support
‘Going to university with a disability is hard enough’
Daniel Swain, a student from East Yorkshire, dropped out of Sheffield University after they failed to meet his disability accommodations.
The University of Sheffield has apologised for their failure to correctly support Daniel’s disability whilst studying and are proactively working to improve their disability support service at the university.
Daniel Swain, who is legally blind, said “everything went wrong” in the first few months of studying an undergraduate degree in philosophy at the university.
Before starting at Sheffield university Daniel had been in contact with the Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS) to create a custom Learning Support Plan (LSP) to ensure adjustments had been made to support his disability whilst studying.
Daniel’s LSP would have allowed him to access his course materials, such as readings, lectures and seminars. However, his LSP was not passed on to all of his lecturers meaning essential reading materials were not made accessible to him via his electronic screen reader – a device used to listen to readings out loud.
Initially, Daniel described his experience with the DDSS as positive, but failure to implement his LSP showed the “institutional failures” of the university system.
The 19-year-old said that the lack of care taken by Sheffield’s philosophy department in implementing his LSP left him feeling, “less able to participate in lectures and seminars” because he couldn’t prepare for them.
This is what led to Daniel’s withdrawal from the University of Sheffield. He said he felt he “wasn’t getting the same experience as the other students on the course, so [he] thought the best thing for [him] to do was to drop out.”
A Sheffield University spokesperson said: “We are working proactively with our Students’ Union to improve our disability support and producing extensive guidance on implementing Learning Support Plans and the recommendations they make.
“We are very sorry that a Learning Support Plan was not fully implemented by a students’ department at the start of the last academic year.
“We are working proactively with our Students’ Union to improve our disability support and producing extensive guidance on implementing Learning Support Plans and the recommendations they make.
“We continue our commitment to addressing barriers to participation to ensure we provide inclusive curricula, learning and teaching environments. Further information on disability inclusion can be found at: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/inclusion/disability.”
The Students’ Union also commented on the incident, describing Daniel’s treatment by the University of Sheffield as “completely unacceptable”.
Daniel had received two A* and one A grade at A Level. He said that the failings of the course have stolen his future: “Going to university with a disability is hard enough.
“I went to Sheffield and came back with nothing. I don’t know [now] what I want to do.”